Aristide is rumored to be returning to Haiti tomorrow. It seems to be confirmed that he left South Africa where he has been exiled for seven years. Aaron just saw on Twitter that internet is being installed at Aristide's house in Haiti tomorrow. That screams of an upcoming arrival if you ask me.
I won't even pretend to know the full story on Aristide's past deeds in this country. Here's the basics: He became President after Baby Doc was run out of Haiti. He was loved by the Haitian people. There was a lot of tension and political unrest in Haiti during his time in office. People who lived here during the Aristide years have lots of interesting (scary) stories. The US played some sort of role in removing Aristide from Haiti seven years ago. He has been exiled, but a lot of people in Haiti still love him. One article I read today said the people here equate Aristide's return to the return of Jesus.
Now he's on his way back to Haiti. Sunday is election day in this country. During election time, it's always up in the air what will go down on this island. Remember the first round of elections? We posted lots of pictures of the riots. We were safe behind our tall walls, but the city was shut down for several days. So was the airport. No flights in. No flights out.
Soso (the lady who works for us) walked in the front door today, said her normal "hello" and then unloaded on me how worried (and irritated) she is about what could happen over the next few days. "Aristide is coming." She is afraid she won't be able to come to work. She's scared for us. She says there will be a lot of trouble. A lot of people will act crazy. She made sure we had plenty of food. She was determined to get all our water containers filled. The only other time I have seen Soso act this way was the day before the last riots started. She usually laughs when I tell her the things I've heard. "That's not true, Madame. Don't worry. Things will not get crazy." Well, today she was singing a different tune.
A friend of mine who lives in Haiti called this morning and told me she was being evacuated. She found out today that she's leaving today.
So it sounds like things might be nutty around here for awhile. Except here's the deal...
Maybe things won't be nutty. The point of this post isn't to warn anyone. It's not even to inform anyone. Never look to me for accurate news coverage. Never do that. The point of this post is to say this...
The weirdest part about living in Haiti is having absolutely no real, tangible idea what's going on here, or what is about to go on here.
Rumors. The things I've heard today made me nervous. I sent an email asking people to pray. I was anxious. There is a chance things here could be off-the-hook insane in the coming weeks. As usual no one seems to know what to expect, but everyone agrees that Aristide's return is a big deal. Some missions organizations are evacuating their people. Some mission teams that were here for the week are changing plans and leaving on earlier flights.
We know that rumors cause fear. If we left this country every time there was a rumor that something was about to happen, we'd never live here. If I stayed home instead of going to Heartline every time someone told me school might be canceled or a riot could start, there would have been countless days I would have stayed home only to watch absolutely nothing happen that was predicted to happen. But then again, if something actually did happen and we didn't listen, wouldn't we feel like idiots?
There. That's what I'm trying to get at...the constant state of not knowing. Not being able to make informed decisions.
It all makes me freak out, pray, be reminded that God is in control, freak out some more, pray again. You get the picture.
This is life in Haiti. I've decided that selfishly I'd almost prefer an all out riot on the other side of the wall over the constant tension and the rumor of riots. The rumors. They make it hard to decide whether parents should send their kids to school. They make it difficult to know whether or not schools should cancel school. They make it hard to know how to prepare. Go buy food? Stock up? Stay home? Go to Heartline? If I go, and it's fine in the morning, will it be clear and safe on the ride home? Do we have enough water? What about diesel? Are we being stupid? Maybe. Maybe not. And then there's the disappointment in myself for really worrying at all about this. Where is my faith? My worry makes huge statements about the way I view God. Notice how all these worries and frustrations are first world worries? They are the worries of the wealthy. What about the people who do not have the luxury to worry about things like stocking up on supplies? They can't even eat every day. Let's get real. We're going to be fine. We have enough macaroni and cheese in this house to eat on for a month.
So how can you pray? You can pray for us to trust the Lord. When I stop and pray, I am at perfect peace. Pray we abide in Him and depend on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us. You can pray specifically for me...that I'd trust Aaron and his leadership over the coming weeks. I want to take my cues from him. Ultimately he carries the weight on his shoulders of how to plan and prepare for our family. I would not want his job. Pray for wisdom for Aaron. You could pray that those here on mission trips get out of the country on time. If the airports shut down, that would stink for a lot of people who need to get back to jobs and families.
But most importantly would you pray for Haiti? That things would remain calm and peaceful here?
Because ultimately...as with almost all political unrest, the people who will suffer the most are those that are the most vulnerable and the weakest. Women like these...
...who could go into labor any day now and have to deliver in a dirty tent, without sterile instruments because the city is shut down and they can't make it to Heartline.
Or people like these guys...
photo credit: Heidi Saylor
...who will go to bed with hungry tummies because their mothers cannot work when the city is in a mess.
But then again, maybe none of this will happen. Maybe life here over the next few weeks will be the normal sort of strange and unpredictable. The strange and unpredictable we've grown accustomed to the longer we've lived here. Maybe I'll feel like a total dork for even thinking about these things or forcing you to think about them. Maybe. Maybe not.
Sigh. This is Haiti.